Top Tips

Bringing Woodwork Alive

January 2011

In the 42nd of a series of practical construction tips, Engineer Jagvir Goyal discusses aspects of painting woodwork.

1. While painting walls or any other surface, never dip the brush fully in the paint. Dip it so that only one-third of the length of the bristles is covered with paint. Never remove the excess paint from the bristles by squeezing them against the rim or wall of the tin. Always tap the brush lightly to remove excess paint. For best results on any surface, always brush down to up, then up to down, then right to left and left to right. Let the strokes be long.

2. Before painting woodwork, remove all loose particles with emery paper no. 180 to rub the wood. Ensure there is no dust in the air. Sweep the rooms clean a day earlier. Ask the painter to apply the paper along the grain of the wood and not across it. Apply putty around the knots. When it dries up, apply a little varnish over it. Don’t use water to clean the wooden surfaces. Now apply a coat of primer. Allow it to dry for six to eight hours. Next, apply putty to fill all s in the wood and remove unevenness of the surface. Allow it to dry for six hours. Again apply no. 180 sandpaper on the surface. Wipe off all the dust produced. Now apply another coat of thin primer. Allow it to dry for six hours. Apply no. 320 sandpaper. Now apply the final paint or polish.

3. While using paint, stir it well in the can before the start of painting. Don’t stir the paint with the brush; use a wooden rod. Ask the painter to keep stirring the paint during painting work too. Ready mixed paints will give an output of about 8 sq m per litre for two coats while synthetic enamel paints will cover about 7 sq m per litre in two coats.

4. Ensure that the synthetic enamel paint you choose is as per IS 2932 standards. IS 2933 paints are enamel paints while IS 2932 paints are synthetic enamel paints. Always ensure no brush marks are visible on painted doors and windows. It also shouldn’t appear as if thick paint is flowing downwards. Always allow sufficient time to elapse before applying the second coat. A way to check: if you rub sandpaper on the first coat, no paint should come off with it. Only then should you apply the second coat. Light sandpaper application can be made after the first coat. Generally, 24 hours are required for a coat to fully dry.

5. To make the paint easy to apply, it may need thinning. Add thinner only as per the manufacturer’s instructions. If he advises against it, don’t use any thinner. If the manufacturer advises the use of thinner, use turpentine oil or Dulux thinner. It shouldn’t affect the colour or uniformity of the paint. Over-thinning of paint will eliminate its gloss and shine, landing you with a dull surface. Under-thinning may leave paint too viscous, making it difficult to apply. Under-thinned paints also result in the appearance of brush marks on walls. Use good brushes as poor quality brushes also leave marks. Thinning may be required when a spray gun is used.

6. Take care of glass panes. Apply masking tape or provide a paint shield on them during painting or polishing of windows. Great care should be taken to protect surfaces like glass panes if spraying of paint is to be done. While painting windows and ventilators, fix a wide, removable tape all along the joints of wooden frames with the glass panes. This will save the glass panes from any paint marks. After the painting work, peel off this tape. Now take a thin brush and apply paint on the tapered glass putty fixed at the joints, covering 2 mm of glass pane also. This work must be done with patience and in a fine manner. This coverage will not allow any moisture to enter the window frames from the joints. All through the operation, ensure no paint drops are spilled or sprayed over glass panes. Shield the glass panes well for this. If any drops are sprayed, immediately remove them with a thinner.

7. Always wash new brushes well with soap solution. For brushes to be used for synthetic enamel paints, prepare a mixture of linseed oil and white spirit and keep the brushes dipped in it at the end of the day. Whenever there is a change of shade, clean a brush well with turpentine oil and then wash it with soap solution. Brushes used for distempering can be washed with hot water and soap solution. Ensure no paint drops fall on the floor during painting work. Ask the painter to wipe off any paint droppings from the floor immediately. Use turpentine oil to remove them.

8. For painting metallic surfaces, choose synthetic enamel paints. These are highly durable, have a glossy finish and prevent corrosion of metals. Synthetic enamels are available in three grades: first, second and third quality. First quality should be chosen only if the surfaces to be painted are susceptible to high corrosion or affect the aesthetics of the building. Before start of painting, prepare the surface well. To clean metal surfaces, use a wire brush. In addition to worn-out paint if any, remove all sorts of rust. Use sandpaper if some patches need rubbing; else, a wire brush can do the job. Next, apply the priming coat and allow it to dry.

9. Among various types of polishes for woodwork, French polish is very economical and provides good gloss but is not durable and does not resist scratches or stains. Also, it loses its shine quickly. Melamine-based finish adds great beauty to woodwork and resists scratches and stains but is the most expensive. Polyurethane-based finish is costly, scratch and stain-resistant and is easier to apply. Melamine or polyurethane finishes can be applied with brush and cotton cloth or can be sprayed. Melamine polish requires more labour and hard work. So choose melamine polish if your painters are hard working or choose PU polish if you want to accomplish the job quickly.

10. To decorate children’s room with different figures, use stencils. Paint the walls, preferably in bright colours. When the final coat has fully dried up, paste stencils on the wall with masking tape. Get a sponge, dip it in the paint and apply it on the stencil. Remove the stencil when the paint has completely dried up. Use yellow paint on blue colours and pink or orange colour on a yellow background. Do stenciling only on one wall. If the stencil is large, paint only the edges; remove the stencil and fill the inner space. The wall will make the room look special. Many of these stencils are available with paint supplying companies and can be procured free of cost.

11. The latest arrivals in the paint market are ‘special effect’ paints. With these, you get special effect tools too, like a sponge, ragging roller, comb, special effect brush and spatula. These colours and effects add three-dimensional effects to walls. A wall can be made to look like a curtain, painting, sky or fabric. The cost for this at the moment is really high, in the range of Rs 40 per sq ft. These colours can be used on any one wall of the lobby or balcony if you wish to have a mural.

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